Acting Inside of the Human Body

Robot assisted medical interventions have the potential to provide surgeons with increased capabilities, such as reaching confined spaces, removing physiologic tremor, scaling motion and increasing manual dexterity. This challenge is focused on making possible minimally invasive interventions and in the near future scarless interventions, especially by considering tortuous path, deep anatomy, and confined spaces.

Few examples of medical applications:

  • Inspecting the olfactory cleft can be of high interest, as it is an open access to neurons, and thus an opportunity to collect in situ related data in a non-invasive way. Also, recent studies show a strong link between olfactory deficiency and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. However, no inspection of this area is possible today, as it is very difficult to access. Only robot-assisted interventions seem viable to provide the required dexterity. 
  • Cholesteatoma is a skin growth that occurs in an abnormal location in the middle ear. It is usually due to repeated infection. It was estimated that one new case per 10,000 citizens occurs each year. Over time, cholesteatoma expands in the middle ear, filling in the empty cavity around the ossicles and then eroding the bones themselves (ossicles, mastoid). Cholesteatoma is often infected and results in chronically draining ears. It also results in hearing losses and may even spread through the base of the skull into the brain. Nowadays, the most effective treatment of cholesteatoma is to surgically remove the infected tissues through a minimally invasive procedure. Therefore, there is a real need for a minimally invasive robotic system able to access the epitympanum cavity, with high accuracy and dexterity.
Our proposed approach is to develop hybrid continuum robots and miniaturized surgical tools in order to tackle these challenges. The applications below are treated in framework of ANR projects, respectively, NEMRO and ┬ÁRoCS.